From division to unity: The election of the new House speaker

Oct 25, 2023, 9:00 PM

Newly elected U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) delivers remarks with fellow Republican...

Newly elected U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) delivers remarks with fellow Republicans on the East Front steps of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol on October 25, 2023. Utah Rep. John Curtis describes Johnson as a humble man, with a plan to get things done. Chip Somodevilla /Getty Images)


SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Mike Johnson, R-LA, was unanimously elected as the Speaker of the House on Wednesday, seemingly just hours after his name bubbled up as a possibility. 

And Utah Rep. John Curtis told KSL NewsRadio the unanimous vote didn’t come a moment too soon. He said Tuesday started at a low when Rep. Tom Emmer was selected as the speaker designee.

“I sat and listened to my colleagues say, ‘I could never vote for him.’ And then they would list a vote he had taken three years ago,” Curtis said. “I literally heard one of my colleagues (say) ‘I can’t vote for you because you certified the election.’ And it seemed like a real low point that people were becoming ridiculous.”

Over the past three weeks, three other GOP speaker nominees failed to garner enough support to move forward.

But enter Rep. Johnson, a 51-year-old conservative from Louisiana. He’s a lawyer who specializes in constitutional law and was first elected to the House in 2016. Curtis said there was something about him that allowed Johnson to walk into a room filled with division.

“He was able to take that climate in only a couple of hours and secure a unanimous vote — something no one would have predicted could happen.”

So how did it happen?

Ask any motivational speaker, teacher, or business leader what usually precedes success, and they’ll tell you it’s a plan. Curtis said Speaker Johnson has one.

“He put in writing his plan, how he was going to move through the next few weeks how he was going to avoid a shutdown and yet not let the far right people down,” Curtis said. “I think Americans will find that we’ve discovered a little bit of a diamond in the rough.”

It was a bi-partisan agreement to keep the U.S. government functioning that led some House Republicans to call for a vote to remove former speaker Rep. Kevin McCarthy. Curtis did not specify to KSL NewsRadio how Johnson would appease that faction going forward.

But he did point to a personality trait of Johnson’s that may help smooth differences.

“He’s surprisingly humble,” Curtis said. “You would not expect that from the Speaker of the House, as a matter of fact … I think if you look in their job description, you have to be an arrogant-type personality.”


What’s next for Speaker Johnson?

President Biden wants a $106 billion aid package approved and sent quickly to Israel and Ukraine. And there’s the matter of funding the U.S. government past November 17, the last day of the bi-partisan spending bill that cost the last House speaker his job.

But approving spending will be different this time. Johnson has granted one of the demands made by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, and instead of voting on one giant funding bill, Johnson said the House will instead vote on 12 individual bills.

According to CBS News, Johnson acknowledged that another continuing resolution may be needed past November 17 to accomplish this goal.

Related stories: 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Politics + Government

This composite image shows former President Donald Trump (center), Stormy Daniels (top left), Micha...

Kaanita Iyer, CNN

Here are the key players in Trump’s hush money trial

Originally Published: 15 APR 24 07:00 ET Updated: 21 APR 24 20:26 ET (CNN) — Opening statements in Donald Trump’s criminal New York hush money trial are set to begin Monday, more than a year after the former president was indicted in the case. The trial, which made its way swiftly through jury selection last week, is expected […]

9 hours ago

Former Arkansas governor and U.S. Sen. David Pryor, a Democrat who was one of the state's most belo...

ANDREW DeMILLO Associated Press

David Pryor, former governor and senator of Arkansas, dies at age 89

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Former Arkansas governor and U.S. Sen. David Pryor, a Democrat who was one of the state’s most beloved political figures and remained active in public service in the state long after he left office, has died. He was 89. Pryor, who went undercover to investigate nursing homes while a congressman, […]

1 day ago

Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington....

Stephen Groves and Lisa Mascaro

The House passes billions in aid for Ukraine and Israel after months of struggle

A $26 billion package aiding Israel and providing humanitarian relief to citizens of Gaza passed through the House today.

2 days ago

A man carries a Free TikTok sign in front of the courthouse where the hush-money trial of Donald Tr...

Mary Clare Jalonick and Haleluya Hadero

The House votes for possible TikTok ban in the US, but don’t expect the app to go away anytime soon

The House has passed legislation that would ban TikTok in the United States, but that doesn't mean the app is going anywhere anytime soon.

2 days ago

The word "privacy" is nowhere in the U.S. Constitution. But with technology changing things by the ...

Amanda Dickson

Dickson: Should we have a consumer right to privacy?

A bipartisan proposal would define privacy as a consumer right and create new rules for data collection companies to follow.

2 days ago

two people shown with wraps over themselves as they use the cbp one app...

Peter Johnston

Utah lawmakers push bill to stop undocumented immigrants from boarding planes

The CBP One app allows people immigrating to the U.S. to set up an appointment with customs before they land at a port of entry.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

From division to unity: The election of the new House speaker